According to G.K. Chesterton, the act of getting to and from a pub is central to an understanding of British life and landscape. With around 60,000 to choose from, he may have had a point. So bon viveur, pub singer and writer Ian Marchant set off with photographer Perry Venus on a gruelling month long British pub crawl, to go to and from a lot of pubs in order to test Chesterton's hypothesis. Not for the intrepid travellers the lame Lands End to John O'Groats route so beloved of Beefy Botham, people in chicken suits, etc. No, Ian and Perry set off from the Turk's Head on the Isles of Scilly, the most south-westerly pub in Britain, and by way of Plymouth, Glastonbury, Winchester, Kensal Green, Wild Wales, Walsall, Burton, Skegness, Lancaster, Gretna Green, Glasgow, Jura and Duff Gardens, ended up in the most north-easterly place you can go for a drink, the Baa Bar at RAF Saxa Vord, on Unst, in the Shetlands, where they breached national security. The two friends, high in the foothills of Middle Age, meander along the roads of Britain, meeting up for a drink with low comedians, award winning poets, Europe's foremost pub philosopher and Ian's Uncle Tony. Along the way they unearth the origins of gin and tonic, find out how pork-scratchings are made and how to make moonshine at an illegal still in the Welsh hills. They taste rough cider in the Blackdown Hills, twat a chav in Yorkshire, learn to distinguish between varieties of hedonism, and reveal how Pub Quiz is the new freemasonry. And yes, they went to Eli's in Huish Episcopi.
Ian Marchant wasn't born in Newhaven in East Sussex in 1958, but he often claims that he was because of his deep embarrasment about his real place of birth.
But he really did grow up there, and went to school there, and he still sees it as home, even though it quite clearly isn't, given that he lives 250 miles away in Mid-Wales.
He didn't make a living singing in bands in the late 1970's and early 1980's; nor did he become a civil engineer in the late 1980's, as he didn't have any facility for the maths. He was surprised to learn recently that he didn't graduate in the History and Philosophy of Science with a Creative Writing Minor from Lancaster University in 1992. He really did live in a caravan for many years, but he didn't share it with a chicken called Ginger, who was rather an occasional visitor.
He put his career as a novelist on hold when his second novel 'The Battle for Dole Acre',(whose title he can't pronounce),didn't really sell. He didn't know much about railways or pubs when he started writing his acclaimed travel memoirs 'Parallel Lines' and 'The Longest Crawl',(though he does now). He did stay awake for countless nights to write his latest book 'Something of the Night'. He's now not writing a new book (provisional title 'A Hero for High Times') because he's writing this instead.
He does, however, teach Creative Writing at Birmingham City University, support Brighton and Hove Albion and sing in a cheesy cabaret duo called 'Your Dad', even though he's not really your dad, unless he is.
You can read his blog, which he doesn't update enough, via his website, www.ianmarchant.com